IAF Mirage Mirage-2000 crash: Gone in a flash of flames and debris

A watchman of Sobha Palladian, an apartment complex nearby, said though terraces are off limits for residents of the apartment many had lined up in their balconies as fire raged from nearby.

Published: 02nd February 2019 05:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd February 2019 07:36 AM   |  A+A-

Air Force and HAL staffers recover the flight data recorder at the crash site in Bengaluru on Friday. | (Pushkar V | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Syed Irfan was taking a break from his morning shift at the canteen of a private company with its office adjacent to the HAL Airport and was sipping a cup of tea when he heard a loud noise followed by growing flames and thick plumes of black smoke.

“It was exactly at 10.31 am,” he said, surfing through images and videos captured by him of the tragic accident. Before he could rush to the spot with several others from nearby areas, two parachutes were also spotted before they disappeared into the smoke.

“It was shocking for everyone who saw it. Parts of the aircraft came tumbling down the embankment at the end of the runway and the fire spread across the vegetation. This is when we decided to run to the rescue of any survivors,” he told Express.

As the spot of the incident was separated by a compound wall, many people who rushed there entered through the HAL playground, which is located south of the site where the remains of the aircraft were found.

He was the among the first to reach the spot and found one of the pilots completely aflame and motionless, while the other was found nearby with severe injuries.

“When we found him, he had burn injuries on his back and was bleeding from his mouth due to the injuries he suffered after falling down from a height. If his parachute had not caught fire and plunged him into the ground, there were chances that the second pilot might have survived,” he said.

At the same time, a part of the compound wall close to the site was also demolished to allow movement of fire tenders to the site. Following the incident, there was hectic activity at the site with fire tenders and helicopters from HAL pressed into service.

A watchman of Sobha Palladian, an apartment complex nearby, said though terraces are off limits for residents of the apartment many had lined up in their balconies as fire raged from nearby.

“There must have been a lot of fuel in the aircraft as it took a while for the fire engines to extinguish. It must have taken at least half an hour for the fire tenders to douse the flames,” he said.

Conspicuously, many of the eye-witnesses, such as the watchmen employed in front of several office complexes, refrained from commenting about the tragic incident. “We saw flames and we saw fire. This is all we can say as we have been instructed not to speak about the incident,” the watchman said.

What happened:

1 Mirage-2000 aircraft, which had passed initial tests by HAL, following its upgradation, is taken for customer acceptance flight by Indian Air Force test pilots.

2 IAF pilots, after completing a first acceptance sortie recently, take it out for a second of the three acceptance sorties.

3 The aircraft develops a technical snag — said to be control failure — and crashes into the barricade at the end of the runway. Though the flight was airborne for a short duration, the snag causes the aircraft to touch ground again forcing the pilots to eject.

4 The aircraft tumbles over the embankment and causes the fire to spread due to the fuel available.

5 The ejected pilots who try to veer away from the flames face trouble as their parachutes catch fire forcing them to fall near the aircraft, which is surrounded by fire.

Previous crashes

March 2008: Three pilots of Aircraft Sytems Testing Establishments were killed after National Aeronautics Laboratories Saras Light Aircraft crashed near Bidadi in Ramanagar district.

Sept 2007: A six-seater chartered flight plunged into a lake in South Bengaluru, killing all four people on board. The private jet was chartered by jeweller Joy Alukkas to Kochi.

Feb 2007: Ahead of Aero India 2007, HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopter crashed during a rehearsal, resulting in the death of a co-pilot.


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